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How is a High Net Worth Divorce Different From a Regular Divorce?

Actors, musicians, athletes, CEOs, business owners, and other high net worth individuals must go through the same divorce processes as anyone else. High asset divorces, however, carry additional complications that merit additional consideration and legal expertise. Read on for a discussion of factors specific to high net worth divorces, and contact an experienced Englewood high asset divorce attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.

A Longer and More Expensive Divorce

For many reasons, high net worth divorces are more likely to result in lengthy, expensive contests. There are more, higher-value assets at stake, giving the parties added incentive to fight. The parties are likely to have more resources to devote toward a longer contest and are thus less likely concerned with the costs incurred in protracted divorce litigation. Additionally, as we discuss below, a variety of complexities inherent to high asset divorces are likely to require more discovery, retention of experts, more complicated legal disputes, and other elements that contribute to a more drawn-out, expensive process.

Complex Asset Valuation and Division

In a typical divorce, marital assets subject to division are likely to include bank accounts, a house, a car, and other personal items. These assets are relatively simple to value and apportion. High net worth divorces, on the other hand, often involve assets that are much more complex to value. Larger pieces of real estate, business ownership, degrees, complex securities, retirement accounts, and other assets require significant professional valuation before even getting to the point of fair apportionment, which in and of itself can be a complex legal question. Expert witnesses are likely to be involved as well as significant discovery and motion practice in court.

Reputational and Privacy Considerations

High net worth divorces are more likely to involve public figures such as entertainers, athletes, and CEOs. Public figures or other folks for whom reputation is both privately and professionally significant can be severely harmed if divorce filings and hearings become public. There are means and methods to employ to keep as much of a divorce proceeding private as possible and minimize gossip columnists’ and journalists’ access to the couple’s dirty laundry. The parties may be able to resolve much through mediation, settlement negotiations, and other alternative dispute resolution methods, most of which are strictly private, or they may be able to get court orders enforcing the privacy of court filings and proceedings. Your divorce attorney can explain your options for keeping your divorce out of the public eye.

Hidden Assets

High net worth individuals are more likely to have a variety of different types of assets in a variety of different locations. Off-shore accounts, complex business holdings, and other assets can be difficult to track down and add to the divorce for equitable division when either party chooses to be less than honest. In many cases, hiring a forensic accountant and other financial experts is necessary to ensure that all appropriate marital assets are located and accounted for in the divorce.

Retirement Accounts

One type of asset requires special treatment in its own right. Retirement accounts not only require valuation and appropriate division; they require an additional court order in order to divide. Litigants must obtain a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) from the court to split a retirement or pension plan. Otherwise, the administrator of the plan may refuse to recognize the former spouse’s right to their portion of the account.

Get a Seasoned New Jersey Divorce Lawyer on Your Side

If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.